The How-Tos of Skinning and Preparing Rattlesnake Meat

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Tony Maples Photography


In March of this year, we shared a viral video of a rattlesnake uncoiling on a barbecue that had readers grimacing. Some people cringe at the thought of a snake such as this, never mind the concept of eating one. But rattlesnake meat is considered by others to be a delicacy of sorts. Hunters in Texas are known to eat what they kill, and given the proper know-how and tools, a rattlesnake can be skinned, cleaned, and cooked, resulting in a dish that has been likened to eating turtle or frogs legs. Do you know how to skin and prepare a rattlesnake? Read on, and we’ll highlight the integral points for cleaning and preparing this meat for a meal that’s fit for any hungry Texan.

First off, remember that utter and complete caution should be taken when dealing with dead rattlers. Even those that are decapitated can result in venom injections with a prick of their fangs. Use long implements you have nearby to ensure the head is first cut off entirely, and second, pushed as far away as necessary to ensure safe handling of the body. When disposing of the head, use a long-handled shovel to carry it properly, and make sure no nosey pets or curious children follow you.

The How-Tos of Skinning and Preparing Rattlesnake Meat

Photo: Flickr/David Jackmanson

Next, put on a pair of latex gloves. Rattlesnakes have been known to carry salmonella and such gloves will offer a layer of protection. For the same reason, when cooking, ensure that the meat’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Now you’re ready to clean the rattlesnake. Using a pair of scissors, open its belly beginning from where the head used to be and ending at the tail. Now, with a sharp blade, begin to remove the skin from the meat at the head portion as well as in front of its rattles. Next, grasp the snake’s body firmly in one hand, preparing to pull the skin off the body with your dominant hand. You may need to use pliers, and you’ll peel the snake’s skin down, similar to peeling a banana. According to, you can then roll the skin and “…place in the freezer, or stretch it, scales down on a long board and apply salt or Borax liberally, covering every square inch of skin.”

The How-Tos of Skinning and Preparing Rattlesnake Meat

Photo: Instagram/thewhiskeybiscuit

Here, you’ll remove the entrails from the snake’s body cavity, which should come out in one extensive piece, leaving a clean body cavity. Follow that, you’ll want to cut the rattlesnake into two or three-inch pieces, making the neck and tail pieces a little longer for even cooking time amongst all parts. Recipes for rattlesnake meat can be found at the link provided here. If you fancy yourself a bit creative in the kitchen, you may want to dress it up in your own personal fashion and cook/serve this dish according to your own tastes and style. No matter which way you slice it (pun intended), rattlesnake meat can be a great meal to have as a hunting lunch or dinner, or a weekend snack or supper.